House Overwhelmingly Passes $700 Billion Defense Spending Bill

by Philip H. DeVoe

Yesterday afternoon, the House of Representatives passed a $700 billion defense spending bill by a 356–70 margin. The bill will fund several elements of the military’s defensive preparation in response to the North Korea threat by authorizing spending to improve existing and implement new missile-defense systems, increase the number of troops in each branch, and boost the nuclear security program.

The bill, which is the fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), not only exceeds President Donald Trump’s original defense request by nearly $100 billion, but also exceeds the spending cap on defense funding set by the Budget Control Act by nearly $150 billion. For the NDAA to be effective as a law, congressmen must strike a budget deal to raise the cap. According to House Armed Services ranking Democrat Adam Smith (D., Wash.), this is a potential obstacle facing the NDAA, since the House hasn’t “made a lot of progress.”

Armed Services chairman Mac Thornberry (R., Texas) said on the floor that the bill won’t fix the problems facing the U.S. military in one year, but is a move “in the right direction.” He’s right — the NDAA is a good bill that will help strengthen the U.S. military’s ability to defend itself, and the bipartisan support might help keep defense funding high long into the future. Debate on the bill in the Senate will begin after Thanksgiving, and it is likely to pass with bipartisan support.

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